How To Revamp The Billable Hour
Debbie Kilsheimer, Owner of Behind the Scenes Financial Services, will tell you right away that accounting work is all about optimizing your time with your clients. By focusing on delivering the quality over the quantity of your time, you can show your clients how they too can win in their business. This is how Debbie, the Quickbooks Pro Advisor Revamped The Billable Hour.
In this latest Grow Your Firm podcast, Debbie shares what she believes are the keys to your success that leads to your clients’ success:
- Thinking proactively and not reactively
- A guide to profitability
- How time is a profit center
- Improving the client relationship
- …and so much more!
How To Contact Debbie
- Proadvisor: http://proadvisor.intuit.com/quickbooks-help/debra-kilsheimer
- Debbie’s LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/debbiekilz
- Behind the Scenes Financial Services: http://www.bsfsllc.com
- Debbie’s Email: BSFSDEB@Gmail.com
- Call or text at: 1 (386) 852-5755
Debbie Kilsheimer is a seasoned professional who has been doing accounting and tax work since her early days of helping her dad file tax returns for his clients. She is the owner of Behind the Scenes Financial Services located in Port Orange, Florida and is an Advanced Certified ProAdvisor with QuickBooks.
Debbie enjoys helping her clients in their accounting education and needs. “I like talking to people. I like making a difference in people’s lives.”
So naturally, she received her degree in accounting. She entered into the CPA world…and hated it!
“It was the most boring job in the world,” Debbie recalls. She was efficient at getting the work done. Yet in an office that embraces the billable hours model, she was encouraged to “stretch a job forever” and to document every action she was doing.
In addition, the firm dynamics were focused more on their internal workings and less about how much they could help their clients win in their business.
So she quit.
“Thinking Proactively and Not Reactively”
Debbie moved into accounting sales and then joined a small accounting firm started by someone who is now her husband. They were able to grow their firm to what it is today: Behind the Scenes Financial Services.
In helping clients win in their business, Debbie believes the approach is determining what they can do proactively and not reactively.
For example, working on an audit. To Debbie, completing an audit is like looking at the world backward.
Instead, she wants business owners to look forward for what they can do this year and beyond to make their business profitable and win in their business.
Debbie always felt that accounting indicates where you are at the moment as a business. It is the “history of life…a scrapbook” and in looking at their business past, clients can better predict their business future. Then they can make the tweaks and changes now to enhance their business later.
“Drill these question into your clients’ heads. Where are we now? Where do we want to be? What did we do right and what we did wrong? It’s all about accounting.”
When advising her clients, she sits down with them to review their income statements and other financial metrics, explaining concepts and implications in “plain English.”
Clients like her approach. She suggests, “Let’s change these drivers to see impact to your bottom line.”
One of her very first clients hired her for CFO services as they were approaching bankruptcy. With her help, they were able to sell their business 4 years later for $40 million.
“They finally got a handle to make changes to their accounting structure and a handle on expenses.”
Advising clients is all about getting them to profitability and not about the best ways to achieve tax savings, Debbie believes. “The goal is to have them make a lot of money.” Actually paying a tax indicates that the clients have made profits in the year, she explains.
Debbie’s Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Clients to Profitability:
1. Help clients determine how much they need to spend to get them to their bottom line.
- Make a minimum goal, a mid-range goal, and an “outrageous goal”
2. Help clients determine how much they will need to sell to reach these goals.
- Spend the money to get the equipment, technology, and utility-based tools necessary to do it. Plan for business development now.
3. Encourage clients to be productive and not just busy.
- Have them empower themselves. They are in charge of the way they win in their business.
“Time is a Profit Center”
Debbie challenges her clients to think of their ROI, and in doing so, she has them focus on time-saver efficiencies that lead to profitability increases.
“Time is a profit center,” Debbie said.
Time savers can be apps and technology. Embrace software and other time-saving technologies such as Jetpack Workflow. Help clients use these tools to analyze and interpret their business.
“Spend the money to free up time. Think of a better faster, easier way, and take the time to learn it. Just don’t do things because that’s the way it’s always been done,” urges Debbie.
Maximize business and maximize life. In this thinking, Debbie is a strong advocate to end the billable hours model and quickly turned into becoming a Quickbooks Pro Advisor who revamped the billable hour.
Stop wasting time just to bill the client more. Charge the fixed fee for services rendered, determining a price that is mutually agreeable and fair.
Find ways to be efficient in your own work, and with that extra time saved, use it to win more clients, perform more services, and earn more revenue.
Tips For Improving Client Relationships
Here are a few simple tips from Debbie to foster your relationships with your clients and keep them for the long term.
- Remember people’s names.
“Your name is the most beautiful thing anybody hears. If you remember people’s names, it makes people feel important.” Introduce yourself and ask for their name. If you forget – ask again. Look for their name on their badge at a conference. Saying to yourself and others that you have difficulty remembering names is just doing yourself a disservice. “It’s a confirmation bias…you become your own truth…It is a Mindset perspective: Reinforce and overcome it.”
- Make people feel good
“It’s how good you make people feel. Talk to them.” Find out where they are in their business and where they want to go. Make a difference in people’s lives through accounting. Make it easy for clients to call to ask questions. Debbie reminds accountants that they are not the “not the accounting police or IRS.” Teach clients. Help clients. “Don’t get annoyed…or make them feel stupid.” If you miss their call, be responsive, acknowledge it, and follow up. Lastly, be sure to admit mistakes you may have made and rectify them as soon as possible.
- Ask the WHY question
The first question Debbie always asks her clients is “why?” Why did they start their business? Why do they do what they do? Why do they want to win in their business? Find out their “Why Statement.” She believes that she is there to help her clients run their businesses, to interpret their results and to offer suggestions on how to make better financial decisions. But you cannot help your clients if you don’t know why they do what they do.
Do your work smartly and enjoy the time you spend with your clients. You have better control over your time while you are helping your clients improve and achieve their own goals. This is exactly how a Quickbooks Pro Advisor revamped the billable hour and finally made it work for her firm.